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Rooftop owner hopes Palos Heights taps into video gaming

By Jeff Vorva

In the past 10 years, the topic of video gambling has been a hot-button issue in Palos Heights whenever it has been brought up.

And it was brought up again.

The Sept. 7 city council meeting found Frank Costa, owner of the Rooftop Tap, pleading a case for video gaming and addressed some of the concerns that people had when this was a big issue in the 2010s.

“We, as tavern owners, restaurateurs, whatever, have taken a hard hit over two years,” he said of the revenue lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are now just coming back and we are coming back at a time when, in Palos Heights, we have one arm tied behind our back. Within a mile-and-a-half radius, there is Illinois gaming.

“If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it 20 times, ‘Frank, I’ll be right back, I’m going to go down the street into Worth. I’ll throw 20 bucks into a machine and come back and have dinner.’ They don’t come back. We are losing restaurant and beverage business.”

He added that the city is losing sales tax money as well.

Costa, a Palos Park resident, owned the Rooftop Tap with his wife, Marilyn, from March to November 2017 and resumed ownership in 2020.

He said he knew of some of the concerns against having gambling in town, but times are different now.

“Since surrounding communities have Illinois gaming, we don’t have to worry about an onslaught of people coming to Palos Height for gaming,” he said.

He said he and other owners want to avoid losing the customers they have to gaming in other communities. He reiterated that COVID in 2020 hit the businesses hard.

“Property taxes haven’t gone down because of COVID or anything,” Costa said. “I guess I can charge $24 for a hamburger. I don’t want to beat a dead horse here, but I think it’s time for gaming here.

“We want to be able to compete. It’s the elephant in the room and no one want to talk about it. I want you to consider it. I think it’s time for something to happen.”

The council did not address the issue that night. But in December, Ald. Jerry McGovern (4th) asked the council to consider putting a gambling question on the April ballot to help out local establishments who were getting hurt financially because of the pandemic. It did not get past the discussion stage and was not put on the ballot.

“This is something where an owner is going to the bank and borrowing against his house, borrowing against his garage and borrowing against his cars and everything under the sun,” McGovern said in December. “This time, it’s important. These people are going to need something. They have to recover some way.”

3 Comments

  1. Joann Trauscht on September 20, 2021 at 6:53 am

    With all the surrounding bars and restaurants having gambling and not having problems due to the gambling, it is hurting Palos Heights and they would be smart to allow it. I for one go to other establishments to gamble. Palos Heights ALLOW GAMBLING



    • John P. Walsh on September 21, 2021 at 8:38 am

      I moved my CPA practice to Palos Heights (PH) from Oak Brook 27 years ago. The decision to move to Palos Heights was it presented an excellent business environment.

      By not allowing Video Gambling PH has put established restaurants and bars at a tremendous disadvantage. PH has also forced locations to close. Trio’s Restaurant and Bar closed due to a major loss in business after Worth and Chicago Ridge approved Video Gambling. Nick’s Barbecue moved from PH to Alsip strictly for Video Gambling. Nick’s Barbecue was a staple in PH for years.

      PH, Video Gambling is not the “Albatross” and “Demon” that it was originally proported to be. Many cities and villages have taken advantage of the additional revenues and increased patronage to their localities.

      PH, give your restaurant s and bars the additional opportunity to bring more Sales Tax dollars, patrons and new Video Gaming revenues to the city.



  2. Joe Simpson on September 21, 2021 at 4:02 pm

    Add Mr Mo’s to the list of establishments that closed due to the lack of gaming.



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